The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies finishes Peter Jackson’s storytelling through Middle Earth. This journey began in 2001 and now ends right back where it started… focusing on a hobbit and his adventures.
The wrath of Smaug is bearing down upon Lake-town as The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies begins. This picks right up where The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug left off. As tragedy turns to triumph and then back to tragedy, Bard the Bowman finds him leading the people of Lake-town. The now King Thorin has reclaimed his thrown inside the lonely mountain Erebor. He and his bands of dwarfs began searching for the Arkenstone… as ‘dragon sickness’ takes hold, Thorin becomes obsessed with this new quest. Meanwhile, outside the mountains both men and elves have arrived for their share of the treasure that lays under the mountain. As Bilbo Baggins struggles to maintain the peace, little does anyone realize that there is a much bigger threat to peace approaching.
I will admit that this was a bit of a surreal experience, watching the final Middle Earth movie. This was a journey that began when I was in college and has been one of my favorite franchises to geek out about. That being said, I found it harder to review this movie over others I have reviewed in the past. I will try nonetheless.
This movie started out big and bold. It looked incredible. It was intense. Smaug’s battle with Lake-town was perhaps one of the most terrifyingly great parts of this movie. As the focus moved to the impending battle for the lonely Mountain, the visuals continued to be incredible to look at. In fact, Middle Earth has never looked more ‘real.’ From the scenery to the characters, Peter Jackson has perfected the art of bringing this literary location to life in a way that the viewer can suspend disbelief and believe that this was really filmed in Middle Earth.
The storyline for The Battle of the Five Armies was basically a big progression of battles. There were some stories of love and friendship interspersed but really this movie is exactly what the title says it is. While there were some touching moments, it didn’t take me on the same emotional journey that the movies for The Lord of the Rings did. At no time did I find myself getting antsy but I also didn’t just feel the emotional connection as I did with the original trilogy. The villain Azog wasn’t as impressive or terrifying as the Eye of Sauron. The music didn’t have the same level of depth as some of Howard Shore’s other works. In fact, the whole thing lacked the depth we have become accustomed to experiencing with these movies. It became almost a montage of Middle Earth’s greatest moments as it jumped around from battle scene to battle scene to love scene to friendship to battle. Did I mention there was a battle? Finally, I think perhaps the greatest weakness in this movie was that the just wasn’t enough Bilbo Baggins. The original book is called The Hobbit. I think there needed to be a greater focus on Bilbo throughout the movie with all the other stories contributing to build the bigger picture of the story surrounding his journey and adventures.
What I did like a lot about The Battle of the Five Armies was that it continued the story that began with the telling of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in a continuitous (I like this word better than continuous even if it isn’t a word) way. We now have the final puzzle piece of Peter Jackson’s recreation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works. I will admit, I found myself wishing for more of these stories as the movie came to a close so Peter Jackson clearly did his job. It is a big movie. It is a fun movie. While there is a lot of battle in it, the battles weren’t to a point that made me really uncomfortable. There weren’t any major missteps that made me dislike any of the characters or scenes in the movie. In fact, I found myself liking many of the characters much better at the end of the movie than I did at the beginning… particularly Smaug and Bard the Bowman to name two. My two favorite scenes were easily the opening and the closing. Those two scenes alone are enough to earn this film a hat tip.
The big question about this movie is: Should The Hobbit really have been made into a trilogy? I can definitely see pros and cons with this and it’ll be debated for many years to come by fans of the books and movies. At this point, I just don’t have an answer. Part of me think that I would have liked to see two longer movies telling this story that were three hours long and perhaps a bit more concise. Then when I start thinking through how that would have actually worked, my head begins to hurt so… maybe Peter Jackson really does know best.
The Hobbit isn’t The Lord of the Rings. I personally enjoy reading The Hobbit more but I think I liked The Lord of the Rings as a trilogy more. As I reviewed The Battle of the Five Armies, the thought popped into my mind: How would my view of these trilogies changed if I had seen The Hobbit first and then that led into The Lord of the Rings. The answer there is much different than my current feelings. As I’m analyzing this trilogy over and over in my head, I think that Peter Jackson has now created a series of movies that builds from the story of the discovery of the One Ring that leads to the story of its destruction. The progression of the movies build upon themselves to create a solid six movie series that is cohesive and continues to move the viewer on this beautiful journey through Middle Earth.
I’m not going to say I was blown away by The Battle of the Five Armies but I definitely did enjoy it. Go out and see it and then let me know your thoughts. There are a LOT of things to think about and questions to be asked as we conclude our adventures through Middle Earth. What did you think of the movie? What did you think of the trilogy? How do you think these rate compared to The Lord of the Rings movies and trilogy? I have one last thought before closing out this review: I can’t wait to get all three Hobbit movies on blu-ray and to watch the extended bonus features!
Make it a GREAT day!
- Mr. DAPs